Patently absurd: Google chief lashes out at Android patent mania

Patently absurd: Google chief lashes out at Android patent mania


Somewhat fittingly against the local Australian backdrop of legal patent dramas this week involving Apple and Samsung — in which the latter has been compelled by the former to delay the launch of its eagerly anticipated Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet — David Drummond Google’s Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer has lashed out on the Official Google Blog in a sensational post in which he attacks the “organized campaign against Android by Microsoft Oracle Apple and other companies waged through bogus patents.”

Drummond’s position effectively accuses a number of companies (chiefly Microsoft and Apple who’ve gotten “into bed together”) of teaming up to illegitimately stifle Android’s rocketing growth by acquiring prohibitive patent bundles (from Novell and Nortell sell-offs and at great expense) in concert with a targeted campaign of licensing fees aimed at raising the cost of manufacturing Android devices. Here’s the full text of what he said:

The loser in all this? You. Drummond reiterates the oft-observed view that while patents “were meant to encourage innovation… lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it” and adds:  “Unless we [Google] act consumers could face rising costs for Android devices – and fewer choices for their next phone.”

And you know what? He’s right. Last time we looked only one smartphone operating system shipped on devices catering to every point of the pricing spectrum from ultra-affordable budget handsets right through to top-tier products like the Samsung Galaxy S II. Where is the sub-$719 iPhone? Where are the budget Windows Phones or BlackBerry devices? We love these platforms but come on: they’re really not affordable for everybody. Android is (for now at least).  

One of the reasons Android has seen such massive uptake in the past year is because it’s actually the only OS that condescends to make itself available to the entry-level. And right now as Drummond testily makes clear Google’s ability to offer that choice to consumers is itself under threat.